Photo via Penguin Random House

Wayne Slater, the retired Dallas Morning News political writer known for his book about George W. Bush and Karl Rove died in a car crash recently.

Slater died in a two-car accident in which no one else was seriously injured Dec. 20 while driving alone in Williamson County. He was 74.

An Austin-based political reporter starting in 1984, Slater covered Gov. Ann Richards and Bush’s early political career, including the future President’s five years as Texas governor. Slater spent 16 months on the road with Bush’s first presidential campaign, according to the Dallas Morning News.

The newspaper’s obituary describes Slater in his Austin-bureau prime:

After he became Austin bureau chief, in late 1987, Slater focused on the unlimited contributions to high-dollar state political campaigns. He tapped into emerging computer technologies, persuaded Dallas editors to let him hire research assistants and created the first searchable database of state campaign finance, years before the Texas Ethics Commission achieved the same.

Later, Slater reported extensively on the rise of the Christian right and the use of federal grant money by then-Attorney General, now Gov. Greg Abbott, to prosecute irregularities in collections of mail ballots, mainly by defendants in Northeast Texas who were African American.

Slater’s 2003 book, co-authored with James Moore, Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential, was turned into a documentary the following year. The duo wrote a couple of other books about Karl Rove, including The Architect: Karl Rove and the Master Plan for Absolute Power.

Bush released this statement about the late journalist last week: “Wayne Slater was a hard-working and insightful reporter. He understood Texas politics better than most and contributed a lot to his field. Laura and I send our sympathy to Dianne.”

After he retired in 2014, Slater became an adjunct professor of public policy at the University of Texas at Austin. Slater is survived by his wife, Dianne, and their son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren.


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